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Re: NEC and the web Was: [TowerTalk] Grounding Rod Lenght

To: <>,"Mike Gilmer - N2MG" <>
Subject: Re: NEC and the web Was: [TowerTalk] Grounding Rod Lenght
From: "Jim Lux" <>
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 08:18:14 -0800
List-post: <>
From: "Mike Gilmer - N2MG" <>
> Jim Lux wrote:
> > You won't find the NEC online; it's copyrighted,
> > and the publisher, NFPA, which goes to some
> > expense to create the code, would prefer to be
> > paid for their labors.
> <snip>

>(which has tons of good electrical, grounding, wiring,
> etc. resources), I caught wind of an interesting legal
> debate - that of the legality of a government adopting
> a "code" (such as the NEC) into law, yet (the law)
> not being provided to the public for free.
> The debate is not about making the physical printing
> (the books) available for free, but the laws
> themselves.  In other words, if someone saw fit to
> make them available online (for free), they would be
> allowed to.
> Personally, I hate reading more than a few paragraphs
> at a time on a computer screen, so if I were in that
> line of work, I'd own a hard-copy anyway, but it makes
> for interesting discussion.

There was some court cases in TX about this a few years back, where someone
had put up the entire code and NFPA sued.  I don't recall the end result.

This is a growing and pervasive problem.  the Uniform Building Code is the
same.. most municipalities "adopt" the code as part of their ordinances.
There are also laws that require the entire code in a jurisdiction to be
available to the public (after all, secret laws are unenforceable,
generally).  They typically meet this requirement by having a copy available
for inspection at the city offices or a library or some such.

However, a good case can be made, these days, that it should be available by
other means (it's not like we're riding our horse down to the local
courthouse to file for our building permit).

Here are the arguments as to why they don't let you make copies of "the

1) It's a revenue source by selling copies of the code
2) It gives them control over the "official" version.  If it weren't
copyrighted, then anyone could publish some greatly altered version and call
it the code, and it would be potentially difficult to know if the one you
were looking at was the "real one".  This is partly why NEC is a registered

I think #1 is more a matter of changing the business model for NFPA and
other standards organizations.  NFPA publishes some other very helpful
ancillary material that goes with the code, which helps one practically
interpret it, for instance.  This kind of thing wouldn't fall into the "laws
must be publicly distributed, copyright free" area.

#2 is a stickier issue... but I'm sure that there could be ways to deal with

Jim Lux, W6RMK


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